PI Forecast for the Sichuan-Yunnan Region: Retrospective Test after the May 12, 2008, Wenchuan Earthquake

Changsheng Jiang; Zhongliang Wu
June 2010
Pure & Applied Geophysics;Jun2010, Vol. 167 Issue 6/7, p751
Academic Journal
The May 12, 2008, Wenchuan MS 8.0/ Mw 7.9 earthquake occurred in the middle part of the north–south seismic zone in central west China, being one of the greatest thrust events on land in recent years. To explore whether there were some indications of the increase of strong earthquake probabilities before the Wenchuan earthquake, we conducted a retrospective forecast test applying the Pattern Informatics (PI) algorithm to the earthquakes in the Sichuan-Yunnan region since 1992. A regional earthquake catalogue complete to ML 3.0 from 01/01/1977 to 15/06/2008 was used. A 15-year long ‘sliding time window’ was used in the PI calculation, with ‘anomaly training time window’ and ‘forecast time window’ both set to 5 years. With a forecast target magnitude of MS 5.5, the ROC test shows that the PI forecast outperforms not only random guess but also the simple number-counting approach based on the clustering hypothesis of earthquakes (the RI forecast). ‘Hotspots’ can be seen in the region of the northern Longmenshan fault which is responsible for the Wenchuan earthquake. However, when considering bigger grid size and higher cutoff magnitude, such ‘hotspots’ disappear and there is very little indication of an impending great earthquake.


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